In many churches, the preaching pastor stands as the primary leader of the church as well. While some are moving away from that model (which I hope to address soon), this stands as the primary model in many churches. But even if you’re not the main preaching pastor, you may still have a responsibility to bring the Word regularly in your local church.
And maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you shouldn’t be preaching to your people or to any other people. You may exegete the Word correctly, have the proper application, phenomenal delivery, and are loved by your people. Still–you may need to sit. Here’s why:
- You don’t believe the Bible is fully inspired (breathed out) by God. Paul urged Paul to preach the Word because this Word was the only reliable word of and from God (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5). The Word is enough to make the man of God mature and complete, lacking nothing. If you stand before God’s people questioning the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, you should not preach.
- You’re preaching because it’s a job, not a calling. Paul wrote: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29). God provides the energy for the struggle due to His calling and galvanizing of our hearts. If you’re preaching outside of the call, but only due to this being a job, you should not preach!
- You don’t love the people to whom you preach. Read Acts 20:17-38 and tell me honestly that Paul did not love the Ephesians church and the elders with whom he served. If you fail to love your people do to a haughtiness and arrogance due to whatever reason, then you should not preach.
- You refuse to adapt to the context in which God has you. God places us where He places us. He is sovereign Lord of all, and therefore He knows where He has His people to serve. I remember times when I allowed my personal preferences to be elevated to tests of faith when it came to programs, music, the works. God had to work some hard things in my life for me to realize that He knew where He wanted me, and that brought joy. If there’s a refusal over a long period of time to adapt to the context in which God has you, then you shouldn’t preach.
- You’re looking to the next venture rather than the venture God has you now. Do you see the place where you serve as the proverbial stepping stone? Are you using the church in which you lead to simply gain experience for the next sweet spot of service? If you are using your people for your own personal gain and not their pastoral well-being, you should not preach.
- If you harbor unforgiveness to a member without going and setting things straight. Matthew 5:21-26 is clear about unforgiveness and anger toward a brother. We should even leave our time of worship to set it straight. Even when people say or do things that slander you with false or misguided information and intentions, God still calls you to forgive. If you refuse to do this, don’t preach on Sunday.
- Your marriage/children need you–and you need to step away for a season. Your family comes first outside of God. If your marriage is falling apart and your children are on the verge of stepping off a cliff, then you should step away to care for them as the only husband to your wife and the only father to your children. Hopefully, your church will understand, but even if they don’t, step away. Don’t preach. Be there as Christ for your family.